THE INDUSTRY IN LONDON
Britain has a long-established reputation for producing some of the world’s best-known entertainment and performing arts, from nurturing the talent and creativity of top actors and musicians to developing and producing quality films and TV productions, to hosting a vibrant and innovative theater and events scene.
Interns with previous knowledge and experience in the industry are often surprised by just how differently it is structured here. Most content is developed and created not by large companies – for example, there are few mega film houses – but instead by independent, freelance creatives and small businesses. Even the main content distributors, such as the BBC or ITV, will purchase their content from smaller producers. Networking is key as often many small businesses will collaborate with a variety of other small freelance operations to successfully complete large projects.
Many young people are interested in working in such a creative and exciting industry, so potential interns will need to make sure they stand out. Typically, just liking or enjoying movies, songs or plays isn’t enough to be selected for a role in entertainment: students will need to demonstrate long-term passion and commitment to their preferred industry, through pursuing a relevant academic discipline, participation in a relevant organization/volunteer project, or demonstrated interest such as maintaining a blog.
For passionate and committed interns, London offers incredible opportunities to learn about the entertainment and performing arts industries through placements with FIE’s excellent network of small, independent and innovative creative companies and organizations.
|Large venues and media outlets, such as the BBC, West End theaters, and the Royal Opera House, run their own closed, competitive internship programs which are not compatible or possible with a placement through FIE. Union rules and security issues also prevent students from work experience in these areas. As so many local young people want to get into the field, the demand for entry-level positions far outweighs their availability and it can be extremely difficult to secure work in the practical side of the industry.
Students who choose Entertainment & Performing Arts may be placed in any of the opportunities below. If a particular sub-area catches your eye, let us know on your MyInternship form.
Promotion & Communication
Every industry has a need to effectively market their products and raise their profile. This is especially true in the entertainment industry, where hundreds of artists compete for popularity and attention. Interns in promotion and communication can assist with a range of relevant tasks, including organizing events (film screenings, concerts, performances), assisting with marketing strategy and implementation, writing and developing content, liaising with the media, or engaging with market research. Placements could be with a company which specializes in promotion (for example a marketing or PR agency, a market research company, or an events company) or a communications role within a creative organization (for example a film production company, a music label, a theatre or a venue). A promotion and communication internship offers students an excellent insight into the business side of the industry with opportunities to learn how to turn creative projects into commercial successes.
Talent & Venue Management
Talent and venue management agencies can offer interns insight into trends and developments in the industry, with exposure to established performers and sites as well as new acts and locations. Talent placements can be within agencies which specialize in certain genres of artists (for example, actors, comics, models, musicians, magicians, motivational speakers), generalized companies supporting a variety of different performers and artisans, or community-based organizations which support young, local or up-and-coming talent. Due to the independent production system, many crew members within the industry work as freelancers and also require representation. Venue placements may be with a specific venue or agencies which represent and promote a range of locations. Interns typically do not work directly with talent nor participate in A&R decisions. Tasks are typically office-based and may include scheduling and calendar management, data entry and management, helping publicize artists and events, or research and supporting the search for new talent.
Community Arts Organizations
Many local communities invest time and money into resources for local people to experience and participate in the arts, from theater and music to visual arts and new forms of media and experiential art. These organizations can offer opportunities for professional and non-professional artists to gain experience, new and fringe artists to gain exposure, or simply a place for residents to gather in a stimulating cultural center. As a community-focused organization, they may also provide facilities for fundraising, training, education or open gallery or rehearsal space. Interns may have opportunities to assist with a variety of these projects, as well as engage in communications, administrative and support tasks. An intern in a community arts organization not only gets to experience London’s relationship with the arts but also help make the arts more accessible to all of London’s residents.
Film, TV & Production (XX = Most Competitive XX = Significant Relevant Experience Required)
Although Britain cannot rival Hollywood for big-budget productions, the UK is known for its innovative small budget films, raw documentaries, and high-quality television programs. As noted above, most content is produced by small, independent production companies, and FIE’s internship opportunities fall within these.
For students with experience in places like Los Angeles, it may come as a surprise that not much actual filming takes place in London. Local production companies are likely to take advantage of the subsidies and cheaper costs of shooting elsewhere, and large studios are located outside of London where there is more space. There is no chance of being able to intern at a studio or work on-set for a large production. There are limited opportunities for hands-on work with camera and crew, and these are typically for short-form, commercial and online content. This means production-related internships in London are typically office-based, with tasks including research, writing coverages, fundraising, and budgeting, scheduling and resourcing, communications, editing, and post-production tasks.
Specialized, technical and hands-on opportunities are very limited and available exclusively to students with significant previous academic and professional experience, and so any experience or specialized skills should be highlighted on the CV (include links to your online portfolio) and further described in the personal statement.
Music Agencies & Record Labels (XX = Most Competitive XX = Significant Relevant Experience Required)
London has a long history as a haven for musicians and is home to a thriving, vibrant, and diverse music scene. There are venues of all sizes throughout the city, featuring many types of music styles, including indie, classical, jazz, folk, punk, hip-hop, pop, rock, and electronic. London is home to both underground and major record labels, boasts prestigious music schools, and also hosts numerous international concerts and music festivals throughout the year.
Although interns are understandably attracted to working in larger production companies and record labels, these opportunities are not typically possible due to the competitive nature of the industry. Music placements include opportunities in small, independent labels and agencies; communications and PR firms specializing in the music industry; event companies which feature musical performances; services which support musicians and venues; and charities which support the development of young and local artists. Tasks may include client liaison, marketing and PR, fundraising and community organization, scheduling and calendar management, and administrative duties.
Students pursuing careers in the industry will be acutely aware that contraction over the past few decades mean there are many more qualified professionals available than there is the capacity to employ them. This means the number of students wanting to intern in the music industry far outweighs the number of placements available, making music perhaps the most competitive area FIE offers. Simply having an interest in music is not enough to secure a placement – students must demonstrate a long-term passion and commitment to the industry, through pursuing a relevant academic discipline, participation in a relevant organization/volunteer project, or demonstrated interest such as regularly performing as a musician. Even with strong experience, students must be ready to accept an internship outside the music industry and should effectively communicate this in their application materials.
Theatre, Dance & Performing Arts
London is one of the world’s top cities for theater and performing arts and going to see a production is a common delight for tourists and locals alike. Audiences thrive on innovative, entertaining, and moving performances across all genres. Many small theaters in the UK receive government funding, allowing production companies to explore new writing, experimental performance techniques, and unconventional themes.
There are no internships in The West End (London’s equivalent to Broadway) due to the competitive nature of the industry and strict UK union rules. However, there are a number of excellent opportunities to work with small, independent and fringe theaters, production companies, specialized performing arts companies, educational and training organizations, cultural and heritage performing arts organizations, and businesses and services which support and represent performers and artists. Tasks may include administration, box office and publicity, backstage work, fundraising, education, programming community outreach and events. There are also some opportunities in more specialized areas, such as stage management, technical work, and assisting with rehearsals. Most placements will require students be involved in a variety of tasks, both within the office of the theater or performing arts venue as well as working directly on productions. While interns may not be directly involved in the creative decision-making process, students will have excellent opportunities to learn about the industry as a whole.
REALITIES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Demand for internships in this exciting field exceeds supply. Take the time to craft internship documents which present you as a strong candidate (see our tips below!) but also be prepared to accept a placement in one of your other industry choices.
Academic experience in the relevant field is very helpful, but even more valuable is the professional experience. Increase your chances of being selected for an entertainment and performing arts internship by coming to London with a previous internship or opportunity with a relevant company or organization outside of your university experience.
As the internship is a short, entry-level internship experience, interns with performing talents typically will not have an opportunity to use these talents as part of the experience. For example, actors will not act, directors will not direct, musicians will not write/record music, writers will not write new plays. However, for students looking to pursue careers in these fields, a relevant internship can provide insight into what it really takes to succeed in the industry.
- Previous professional experience in the industry is strongly preferred. At minimum candidates must have a demonstrated, applied knowledge of the industry
- Understanding of the industry and its structure in the UK/London
- Familiarity with relevant industry terminology and technical terms
- Flexibility and willingness to work irregular hours, such as evenings and weekends
- For those interested in technical roles, experience with the relevant technical skills, tools, and computer programs
Relevant academic experience. Applicable majors include Film Studies, Theatre, Performing Arts, Dance, Music, Design, Communications, Public Relations, Marketing and Media Studies
TIPS AND TRICKS: SHOWING YOU'RE A STRONG CANDIDATE
- Show your previous professional experience on your CV, for example, a list of theater productions and roles or a description of film projects
- List any relevant technical skills and link to your online portfolio to demonstrate your level of proficiency
- List by name any programs you are familiar with, such as Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Qlab, etc.
- In your personal statement, describe how you’ve pursued your passion for the industry. Don’t spend too much time listing specific performers who have inspired you, but rather describe the actions you’ve taken which demonstrate that you have more than just a passing or amateur interest in the industry
- If a particular area interests you, make sure to note this to your Internship Mentor in your internship questionnaire (but do so in a way that shows you are flexible and understand specific requests may not be available)